My main thought, upon watching the last episode of last season of the office was: Let it be James Spader! Let it be James Spader! Sweet Lawrd above, let it be James Spader! Now granted, I am a Spader fan from his appearances on The Practice and Boston Legal, so I was anything but biased. But even with that, his character was just awesome. Ray Ramone’s was good, too. I didn’t like that British woman. But James Spader’s character was amazing.

But I knew it wouldn’t be James Spader. Everything appeared to be falling in place for it to go to Edd Helms’s character, Andy Bernard. It was the natural extension of things. Helms had recently broken the barrier to being on the opening montage. They’d already gone there with Jim and Dwight. The only other candidate was Darryl, and the way the episode shook out they explained why the qualified black guy wouldn’t get the job. It was his turn, so to speak. But not only was Spader’s character more interesting from the viewer standpoint, he was also by far the best candidate that they interviewed in the show.

So imagine my surprise when it did go to Spader! Sort of. Spader is going to be a regular guest star, having gotten the job and immediately been promoted to CEO. I assume that Andy gets the Office Manager job, thus making me part-right and part-wrong.

The only really disappointing thing about Spader’s character is his name: Rob California. Even though the pretext of it being a documentary is laughable, one of the things the show has done up to this point was giving us real, if exaggerated characters. With real names. Michael Scott. Jim Halpert. Andy Bernard. While some works of fiction go out of their way to have “interesting” names, The name “California” sticks out like a sore thumb. More than D’Angelo Vickers did.

As most of you (who care) know, Two And a Half Men is replacing Charlie Sheen with Ashton Kutcher. I commented before that they could not have asked for a better drop-off point than they had. Charlie Harper and long-time obsessor-neighbor Rose were going off to New York (or was it France?) together. All they had to do was leave it at that. Charlie’s gone, kept in some sort of bunker with Rose, who won’t let him leave out of fear of what her non-existent, obsessive husband Manny Quinn might do.

But no. Instead, they’re killing off Charlie Harper. This strikes me as a matter of Chuck Lorre simply being spiteful at the expense of the story. The buying of the house could just as easily be done due to creditors going after Charlie’s assets after his disappearance. And it would have been a more fliud story, with what happens next following what happened previously.

So, color me disappointed. It’s gone from a show that was going to be high on my list by the curiosity factor alone, to one that’s going to be as low on my list for the next season as it was for the previous.


Category: Theater

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10 Responses to Recasting

  1. Peter says:

    The character name isn’t totally unrealistic, as a quick search shows almost 50 people with the surname “California” in Pennsylvania, where the show’s set.

  2. trumwill says:

    Not totally, perhaps, but nonetheless… it’s still a TV show name. The kind of name people would comment on if they came across.

    Not totally unrelated to Potential Novel Series I’m exploring. I am considering having a state’s name be taken on by people who moved there back in the 19th century who wanted to leave their old names behind.

  3. Mike Hunt says:

    @Peter

    That’s because there is a town and a university in PA called “California”.

    Also, the link to your blog is wrong.

    @Trumwill

    It sounds like the kind of name you would call someone behind their backs after moving to CA. “Oh, look at Rob California, trying to make it in Hollywood.”

    Ray Ramone’s was good, too.

    Ray Romano in real life; Ray Barone on his TV show.

    I think what worked well about The Office was that the entire cast was a bunch of nobodies* before the show started; it helped one to suspend disbelief. Even Jan was barely recognizable from Soul Man. Bringing in an A lister like Spader changes that. Furthermore, as personal taste, I think he is a douche.

    As for 2 1/2, it is obvious they are getting back at Charlie Sheen by killing him off, a la McLean Stevenson. As you said, it would have been very easy to leave his character in France with Rose. Unless they wanted to bring Rose back.

    As someone who used to defend the show, mostly to women who would put it down out of the clear blue sky, I am disappointed that I will not be watching the new incarnation of the show. Unless, of course, the reviews and ratings are gangbusters.

    *Most people do not watch The Daily Show, so they had no idea who Steve Carrell or Edd Helms were

  4. P.Louise says:

    Mike, I don’t know for sure if you are referring to James Spader’s character, Robert California, as a douche or Spader himself. If the comment was meant for James himself then I disagree. I have met and spoken to him on several occasions and he has been extremely nice. I also spoke with two people who worked with him on Broadway and they both had nothing but praise for him as a person. The same goes for one of his work mates on The Practice and Boston Legal, she adores him even after more than five years of working with him daily on the set.

  5. Mike Hunt says:

    P.Louise: I don’t know for sure if you are referring to James Spader’s character, Robert California, as a douche or Spader himself.

    I have never met Spader. I was referring to the characters that he plays. He plays a very good douche. I will take you at your word that he isn’t like that in real life.

  6. trumwill says:

    It sounds like the kind of name you would call someone behind their backs after moving to CA. “Oh, look at Rob California, trying to make it in Hollywood.”

    Or to conceal the fact that you’re Polish or something.

    Ray Romano in real life; Ray Barone on his TV show.

    Well, yes. But it worked.

    *Most people do not watch The Daily Show, so they had no idea who Steve Carrell or Edd Helms were

    In addition to the Daily Show, he was also getting started as a movie actor at that point. I didn’t watch the Daily Show, but I did know that he was somebody when he was cast for the role. As far as target audience, I think Carell was better known than Spader is.

    Which is not to say I entirely disagree. It was a bit… jarring… to see Will Farrell guest star. It felt like he was not supposed to be there, and not just because I am not a Will Farrell fan (is anybody a Will Farrell fan?).

    As for 2 1/2, it is obvious they are getting back at Charlie Sheen by killing him off, a la McLean Stevenson. As you said, it would have been very easy to leave his character in France with Rose. Unless they wanted to bring Rose back.

    It could be related to Rose, though they didn’t seem to have any problem reducing her role early on. On the other hand, maybe they felt with the show’s anchor leaving they needed more familiar face.

    Naaah. I think it was a “screw Sheen.” I have to say, though, I thought Sheen’s response to it (Throwing a “my death” party) was pretty cool. He was also classy about Kutcher taking his place. It was like once he let go, it ceased to matter as much as everything else in his life.

  7. SFG says:

    Will Maggie Gyllenhaal guest star?

  8. P.Louise says:

    In that case I agree with you completely…Spader was excellent at playing a douche. 😉

  9. ScarletKnight says:

    Or to conceal the fact that you’re Polish or something.

    LOL or Greek.

    It turns out that his name is really Robert Kazamakis.

    Or maybe it is really Robert California and he is just pretending to be Kazamakis for his trip to Europe.

    I would bet on the former though. The only thing I am certain of is that this season of the show was terrible. Parks and Recreation has completely surpassed it in quality.

  10. trumwill says:

    Score! I’m glad they did that.

    Disagree with you about the current season. It is not at its best, but it’s way better than the show has been at its worst. I’m enjoying it.

    I’m a couple season behind on P&R, though, and can’t make that comparison.

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